Do you have what it takes to be SMART'
July 28, 2010
Do you have what it takes to be SMART' The Science Math and Research Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service program selected only 10% of three thousand applicants in the past year. SMART strives to find the most promising students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, who will help to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working in Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories. SMART scholarship winners receive tuition, books and a monthly stipend in exchange for a service agreement to work for the federal government after graduation.
The Concepts Analysis Lab (CAL) division of the Technology Center at the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) works as a sponsoring facility to the SMART program and relies heavily upon these students to help fill in the gap left by an aging workforce.
"In 2009, the Technology Center applied for and received $1 million in funds with which it recruited and hired nine SMART students," says James (Pete) Kirkland, recruiter and mentor of students in the Concepts Analysis Lab. "Three of these students have completed their degrees and are now employed at SMDC."
Sponsoring facilities such as the CAL host SMART students during the summers while they are in school to familiarize them with the projects that they will be working on until they are hired on as permanent employees. Leadership officials within USASMDC/ARSTRAT recognize the impact that these technical scholars will continue to have in the upcoming years.
"The SMART scholarship program and our facility is the future of the Technology Center," says Melinda Still, deputy director to the Technology Center.
This year USASMDC/ARSTRAT's TC won the award for SMART Sponsoring Facility of the Year out of the numerous Army sponsoring facilities in all 50 states and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Each agency (Army, Air Force, Navy, and DoD) gives out an annual award for the best sponsoring facility. The award is chosen based on a facility's success in selecting students, managing the SMART program and meeting challenges effectively.
"It's a great honor and a surprise to have been selected in our first year," says Kevin Nash, supervisor in the CAL. "We are excited to be a part of the SMART program. It has become a critical part of our recruitment workforce development effort."
JoAnn Wright, Army liaison for SMART, attributes SMDC's success as a sponsoring facility to the participation of the command's high level leadership, including previous and current directors Dr. Rodney Robertson and Ms. Debra Wymer.
"SMDC has been the model organization for this program within the Army since they picked up the ball and started running with it," says Wright. "The first year that SMDC participated in the program, the director was involved in the selection of the students. He came out to the annual orientation where he and his staff met the students and talked more formally about their
opportunities with SMDC."
Wymer's presence at the annual SMART Orientation in Monterey, California, confirms USASMDC/ARSTRAT's continued commitment to this program even after the change of leadership.
The SMART program has proven beneficial for all parties involved. As Army Sponsoring Facility of the Year, the USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technology Center recognizes that SMART students are already an integral part of the organization. Meanwhile, the scholarship winners recognize the program as an invaluable opportunity to find success in their careers.
"The SMART scholarship allowed me to complete my degree and also gave me an amazing career opportunity to serve my country and its Warfighters that wouldn't have been possible otherwise," says Ryan Wolff, a newly hired electrical engineer in the CAL.